Lucidity wrote:In contrast, everything in the medical field is practically recession proof. People get sick just as much in bad times as they do in good times. In fact I'd wager the only thing that has a chance of damaging the medical professions at all is legislation. I'll be interested in watching how the health care bill affects doctor salaries.
So, I agree medicine is more stable than law, but as a kid from a family of doctors, it's patently untrue that medicine is "recession proof."
First, there are many specialities that are largely discretionary/elective, and which hurt in recessions. The obvious one is cosmetic plastic surgery, but add to that dermatology, allergology, opthalmology and even orthopedics (you can walk around fine for the rest of your life on a torn ACL, you just can't play sports unless you get $30,000 surgery). Even in "non-discretionary" areas such as gastroenterology or primary care, people who don't have insurance will often stop going to the doctor if they can live with their conditions.
Second, reimbursement rates are set by the government (medicare) and private insurers almost all base their reimbursement off of this (medicare +10% or something like that). Right now rates are being cut drastically for most specialties except for primary care. For example echocardiograms (bread and butter of cardiology) are getting cut 40% over the next 3 years. Imagine losing 40% of your income because of a government decision.
Third, the squeeze in reimbursement rates means most public hospitals in cities and rural hospitals are facing dire budget crises, which has extended to cutting pay, laying off doctors, or even shutting down hospitals. St. Vincent's, the only hospital in Manhattan below 14th street, just shut down this month because of this (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/nyreg ... ts.html?hp).
Fourth, most doctors do not make over $250,000 ever in their careers, even in big cities, unless you are a successful doctor in private practice, or in a very lucrative specialty (cardiothoracic surgery, orthopedics, radiology, dermatology, etc), which are hard to break into. If you are in private practice, you have malpractice insurance premiums which can reach well over $200,000/year for an ob/gyn in a major metro area (http://mdsalaries.blogspot.com/2007/10/ ... ctice.html). However virtually every doctor has about $150,000 in student loans, which does not get paid off during 3-7 years of residency because you make about $50,000/year.
Also, if you want to hear a scary story, read this: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 27030.html